Modi shouldn't forget Fareed and millions like him

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, May 4, 2014.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Modi shouldn't forget Fareed and millions like him

    It has been an exhilarating month. We have marvelled at the sights and sounds of India's great election mela on our television screens. The image, most memorably etched in my mind is of a confident Muslim boy, Fareed, in a small town in Western UP. When the female interviewer asks his name, he retorts with a flirtatious smile, "Who wants to know?" He tells us proudly that the pucca street on which they are standing was a kaccha village road not long ago. As the camera pans, he points to three barber shops, two beauty parlours, an electronics store and an unfinished tower. "This is going to be our mall!" Fareed runs a small business delivering flowers to the big city nearby, but business has been rotten in the past two years; most of his friends have lost their jobs. "Do you think I'd be hanging around chatting... even to a beautiful woman?" She blushes. "That's why I plan to vote for Modi. Yes, I know, Muslim and Modi, but he promises jobs and growth."

    It is because of Fareed and the million hopes of young Indians that I endorsed Narendra Modi in my last column . It brought lots of hate mail. BJP's supporters were offended that I had called Modi communal and they passionately tried to convince me, an unrepentant liberal, about the true meaning of secularism. Congress fans dismissed my column as 'paid news' . My intellectual friends were aghast - how could I have abandoned sacred secularism for profane growth? Since I had made enemies of everyone, I must have done something right. A friend in Mumbai tweeted despairingly, 'why can't we have growth and secularism?' That would be a no brainer. Alas, it is not on offer. None of us wants to give up secularism but if growth continues to fumble, it is secularism which will be endangered. History shows that right-wing extremism thrives during unemployment and disaffection. Yes, it is a risk to vote for Modi but it is riskier not to vote for him as he is our best chance for jobs, growth and the demographic dividend.

    In less than two weeks there will be a new government. Going by the latest polls, Modi is clearly ahead. If the polls are right - which they were not in 2004 and 2009 - and assuming he is elected, his first priority should be to reassure Muslims that he is the leader of all Indians and his government will not allow the events of 2002 to happen again (as they haven't in Gujarat); he is also duty bound to protect minorities against the daily acts of discrimination, especially by functionaries of the state.

    The next priority should be to forge an alliance with chief ministers, making them partners in governing India and bring about genuine federalism. Having been chief minister for three terms this should be a natural. This alliance will allow well-managed states to implement reforms rapidly that would take too long to enact in a fractured central Parliament. Arun Shourie has recently explained that Article 254(2) of the Constitution allows a state law to prevail over a central law provided the President gives assent (which means, in effect, Modi's government has to be in favour of it.) Once a few states begin to implement the reform, others will see the benefits and follow suit. A partnership with chief ministers will motivate the more aspirational states to focus on raising India's Doing Business ranking, and as India becomes more competitive, investors who are presently fleeing China for Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh might well add India to their list.

    Modi should begin each day by remembering why he was elected by Fareed and millions like him: to create jobs and skills. Expectations are running high and he must cool them down, explaining the lag between investment and growth. Attacking inflation is equally important and there is no better ally than Raghuram Rajan. Modi should follow the recipe which has brought No 1 rank to Gujarat in economic freedom - focus on infrastructure, bring in lots of talented persons, free up space for private initiative, empower the bureaucracy, and deliver public goods brilliantly (water, roads, electricity, education and health). Finally, don't subvert institutions; respect them but reform them.

    Modi shouldn't forget Fareed and millions like him by Men & Ideas : Gurcharan Das's blog-The Times Of India

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    A very valid issue has been raised.

    All Indians want a better life, be it in the matter of jobs, education, health or economic and creature comforts, be of any religious denomination.

    It is a false impression that has been drummed in through the years after independence that the Muslims are some unique category of human specie in India which has to be 'protected' with special sops as if they are some endangered specie. And on this false image built up about Muslims to ensure their votes come the way of those who propagated the theory, was built the 'vote bank' edifice of fabrication that only marginalised the Muslims more with nothing substantial coming their way except hot air.

    However, the Muslims have realised that they have to stand up to face life on their own since the all the promises made to them are false. Many have made it even if not to the starry heights in all cases.

    They want jobs and a proper life. Fareed represents the same.

    One hopes that if the NDA comes to power, they do not forget the Fareeds of this country as also others who did not vote for them.

    India, is after all, one!
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Mapping the route to minority success

    Chetan Bhagat


    There are columns that get you into trouble, and this might just be one of them. However, some things must be said simply because too many hypocrites have run the minorities agenda for too long. The results are there for all to see.

    While many individual success stories exist, Muslims, the largest minority, are still well below the national average in terms of income, education and levels of influence in society. It isn't easy for Muslims to live in a society that discriminates against them. However, even many so-called 'keepers' of Muslim causes (the same ones who will attack me on this column) have done little for the community other than suggestions such as: "Never vote BJP, always vote Congress" .

    Such over-simplification and politicization has done more harm than good. It pains me to see a talented community being represented by regressive, parochial and divisive leaders who frankly do not care about India or its youth, and therefore, don't care about the Muslim youth either. With the intent to get through to some positive thinking, open-minded people, I give some suggestions.

    Take a leaf out of the book of other successful communities. The Jews in America, and the Parsis and Sikhs in India are examples of minorities that have done extremely well in their respective countries. Jews form less than 2% of American population, but dominate lists of Forbes billionaires, Nobel laureates, media moguls and Hollywood bigwigs. How did this happen? Several theories abound. However, some factors seem firmly in place.

    Learning pays:

    The greater the emphasis on education, the greater the likelihood that members of a community will be successful.

    Assimilating with the majority community :

    Assimilation does not mean abandoning one's culture, or bending to the majority. It simply means finding as much common ground as possible. It also means not heeding leaders who are encouraging people to vote along communal lines. Even if one ignores the right and wrong of communal voting, it's also not a productive strategy. Instead, Muslims need to put forth a checklist - a set of conditions - on what it would take for them to trust the BJP again. They mustn't only oppose the BJP. They must also entice them with support if their conditions are met. Keeping all political parties on their toes, and lobbying for your own cause is perfectly acceptable and even necessary. However, taking permanent sides is not. Please note, this doesn't mean Muslims should vote for the BJP. It just means they engage with it rather than shun it completely. There is another important point about assimilation. It can't happen without trust, and assuming the best in people. It is understandably difficult to trust when that trust has been broken in the past. However, successful minority communities have been able to do that and allowed the wounds to heal.

    Politicians often scare minorities, making them believe the worst in people. It isn't a great way to live. Hope for, and spread as much goodness as possible in your lifetime.

    Accepting liberal values and personal liberties:

    Most minority communities that have done well have also represented the liberal cause. This helps increase influence in society for a simple reason: most intellectuals are liberal. The youth, too, is attracted to liberal values. If you have intellectuals and youth by your side, you already have a disproportionate influence compared to your actual population. Thus, the ultraconservative and orthodox interpretation of religion will not find as much traction as a modern, open-minded approach. Indian Muslims are more liberal than Muslims in many other Islamic countries . Such voices should be encouraged.

    Encouraging merit:

    As a shortcut to appease Muslims, too many politicians have been suggesting quotas and waivers for the community. What makes communities rise is their own internal talent and merit, not handouts. Reservations on offer are minuscule. However, it tags the community as in need of grace marks and antagonizes the majority. It isn't worth it. Rise with education, hard work, creativity and business acumen. There really is no other way.

    Our minorities are not minor; they are an important part of India. In their success lies India's success. About time we focus on what would enable them to do so.

    Mapping the route to minority success by The Underage Optimist : Chetan Bhagat's blog-The Times Of India
     
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